Edward Posnett

Strange Harvests
  • Strange Harvests

  • 'Exceptional...a subtle, fascinating braiding of travel, cultural and natural history... It is a pleasure and an education to journey with Posnett in these pages' ROBERT MACFARLANE

    In a centuries-old tradition, farmers in north-western Iceland scour remote coastal plains for the down of nesting eider ducks. High inside a cast cave in Borneo, men perched on rickety ladders collect swiftlets' nests, a delicacy believed to be a cure for almost anything.

    These luxury products are two of the seven natural wonders whose stories Harvest tells: eiderdown, vicuña wool, sea silk, vegetable ivory, civet coffee, guano and edible birds' nests. It follows their journey from the wildest parts of the planet, traversing Iceland, Indonesia, and Peru, to its urban centres, drawing on the voices of the gatherers, shearers and entrepreneurs who harvest, process and trade them.

    Blending interviews, history and travel writing, Harvest sets these human stories against our changing economic and ecological landscape, and makes us see the world with wonder, curiosity and new concern.

    (Previously published as Harvest)

Edward Posnett was born in London and studied at Cambridge and Oxford before working in the City in financial investigations. Shortly after leaving financial services, he learnt about the Icelandic tradition of eiderdown harvesting in which farmers offer protection to wild sea ducks in return for their valuable lightweight down. Enchanted by its promise of symbiosis and cooperation, he travelled to Iceland and wrote an account of the trade, 'Eiderdown', which won The Bodley Head/Financial Times Essay Prize. His first book, Harvest, builds on this essay, introducing the reader to small harvests around the globe through the stories of seven wondrous objects that can be held in the hand. He lives in Philadelphia and is a keen linguist, swimmer and amateur potter.


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